Tuesday, September 30, 2008


Jon Gibson "Cycles" (New Tone)
Phill Niblock "A Trombone Piece (1978-94)" (XI)
Remko Scha "Sweep" (Kremlin)
Gerry Miles "V" (Atavistic)
Gerry Miles "VI" (Atavistic)
Lee Rockey "[untitled, from Underground Series 1 cassette]" (Hanson)
David And The Dorks "Triad" (The Internet)
Sun Ra "Say" (Celestial Recordings)
Ornette Coleman "Bourgeois Boogie" (Columbia)
Pete Fine "Sunrise" (Shadoks)
Pete Fine "Life" (Shadoks)
Perry Leopold "The Windwill" (Gear Fab)
Dead C "Bone" (Siltbreeze)
Muslimgauze "Zionist Leather Clad Koran" (Staalplaat)
JVC Force "Strong Island" (B-Boy)
Biz Markie "Pickin' Boogers" (Prism)
Impact Allstars "Easy Come Dub" (Blood & Fire)
Faust "Jennifer" (Caroline)
Hawkwind "You Better Believe It" (United Artists)
Motley Crue "Too Fast For Love" (Elektra)
Landed "Bahdi Odour" (Load)
Landed "War/Us Vs. Them (And You)" (Load)
Landed "How Little Will It Take" (Load)

Lightning Bolt "Dracula Mountain" (Load)
Lightning Bolt "Fleeing The Valley Of The Whirling Knives" (Load)
Remko Scha "Thrash" (Kremlin)

Starting the show today with some selections from Alan Licht's first Minimalism Top Ten, as published in Halana No. 1 back in 1996. (Thanks to the Allegory of Allergies blog for supplying the music.) Jon Gibson's 1977 22-minute pipe organ piece "Cycles" is a nice way to ease in, followed by Phill Niblock's rather more ominous "Trombone Piece." Next, one of the potentially rarest discoveries Licht hipped us to back then, Remko Scha's Machine Guitars album from 1982: "Scha is a Dutch composer who uses metal brushes, saws, ropes, and bars to 'play' open strings on electric guitars 'without human control or interference'." The sound of these machinations can be surprisingly calm and meditative, as on "Sweep," the track played here. (Another track from the album, "Thrash," will appear at the end - it's definitely more machine-agitated than "Sweep," but still programmed as a cool-down after the merciless Lightning Bolt track that precedes it.) After that we play some of Licht's own music, a track from his one-off Gerry Miles group. You may remember this Atavistic label CD from 1996, in which he convened a quartet to play and record in the acoustically rich St. Peters Cathedral of New York City - it's a good one. Keiji Haino did vocals and percussion, Lucy Hamilton (aka China Burg from Mars) played bass clarinet, Melissa Weaver played piano, and Licht played some heavy church organ (probably thinking about Gibson, who played and recorded "Cycles" at another NYC church). An exquisite somnambulant vibe can be heard on the two back-to-back tracks here, chosen because Haino sticks to percussion. (The tracks where he does vocals are cool too, but they're pretty wild.) The Lee Rockey track is minimalist in its own way, one man playing musical violin against stark electronic patterns. He lived from 1926 to 2002, came from Vancouver, went to New York City and worked as a jazz drummer (first Herbie Mann album among others), got his head turned around by Ornette et al, then went back to the Northwest and settled in Portland where he eventually hooked up with Smegma and all the while made the kind of home recordings that can be heard on the Destijl LP (pictured below) and the Hanson Records comp played here (love that cassette-only Underground Series, now at four volumes, check it out here). Maybe my definition of minimalism is a little too broad, but David and the Dorks are a pretty damn minimalist rock band, especially for an offshoot of the rather maximalist and many-voiced Grateful Dead and CSN(Y). This is Crosby on rhythm guitar and vocals, backed by Garcia on lead guitar and vocals, Phil Lesh on bass, and Mickey Hart on drums. They played a few shows at San Francisco club The Matrix under the D & D name in December of 1970. The exact date of this particular recording is one of those slippery deadbased details.... these mp3s are labeled the 12th, but the great deadlists.com site has the Dead playing a full two sets that night in Santa Rosa so it's highly doubtful... only two David & the Dorks dates are listed, the 15th and the 17th, with a recording circulating that is always labelled the 15th, except that apparently at some point on it Crosby can be heard saying "put limiters on it, I overblew their mics last night," which implies that the recording is from the second night of the run... however, this recording I'm listening to has a different track order than either the 15th or the 17th, which could mean that it's the 15th with the songs presented out of order (because all the songs are the same), except that this page lists another show on the 20th with the same track order as mine, and it might just be real because this other gig posters page lists there "probably" being a David & the Dorks poster for the 20th, while listing another poster that exists for Jerry Garcia & Friends playing a three night stand on the 15th, 16th, and 17th.... got all that? As for the music, heads will of course know that this is the same band that backed Crosby for most of his great 1971 solo album If I Could Only Remember My Name. That record is notorious for its bleak Sixties-hangover comedown vibes, but this show is so enveloped in Nam-rock gutter-ballad San Francisco fog it makes Name sound like Sergeant Pepper. Every tune stretches into 8 or 9 minute territory, with Lesh playing some very lugubrious low-end, slowly pushing these songs along like a stoned tortoise while Hart sort of quietly disappears into the rhythm. Crosby's rhythm guitar is a lot sharper and to the point than Bob Weir's one-of-a-kind discursive playing, which throws Garcia's leads into unusually sharp relief... his solo on "Triad" is pretty much glorious... great song too, previously a great Byrds outtake from 1967, a rather more sprightly and filled-out version (the rest of the band didn't want the song on the album because it was about a three-way relationship... I'll admit the lyrics are pretty ridiculous but they're easy to overlook because the song is so sublime, both versions). Anyway, this is a really striking set, thanks to Justin Farrar at Strawberry Flats for tipping me off. The Sun Ra track is from the Strange Celestial Road album, one of his late-70s groove-inflected albums (see also Lanquidity). The Ornette Coleman track is from the somewhat-maligned Virgin Beauty album, perhaps the apex of his maximal slick-funk sick-muzak Prime Time approach. It was released in 1988... man, how often do people talk about records from THAT year... if you think of a good one, let me know in the comments section, just so I can get a bearing on it... anyway it's certainly not one of his greatest but it's still pretty great because he is Ornette Coleman. And speaking of Jerry Garcia, he plays third guitar on three of the tracks... not this one though... and jumping off from Ornette at his most rococo, we take a brief excursion into rococo early 1970s orchestral acid-folk. The Pete Fine album (On A Day Of Crystalline Thought) was recently mentioned here but Perry Leopold and his album Christian Lucifer are brand new to Blastitude and, though both albums are large ensemble works that are incredibly ambitious and big-sounding for private-press projects, the Leopold album has a little more of that good ol' lone-man downer gravity than the Fine. Also notable was that I was looking at this personnel listing for the Leopold album and thought I might just recognize a name, you never know, and sure enough, 11th on the list is Mr. Charles Cohen, Philadelphia's resident master of the Buchla Music Easel synthesizer, last seen around here playing on The Valerie Project album (from the Drag City label) and in a great improvised music duo with drummer Ed Wilcox (Those Are Pearls That Were His Eyes from the Ruby Red label). (And oh yeah, that Planet Y album from the Public Guilt label was actually quite good as well...) This Perry Leopold album isn't too far from the Valerie Project, actually, except with haunting and moody male vocals about Christ and Lucifer and that sort of thing. Impact Allstars "Easy Come Dub" might have the best echoed tinkling-piano hook in dub history and, yeah, that is saying something. Collected on the Dubwise & Otherwise Vol. 2 set from the Blood & Fire label, and thank you, I thought the transition from it into "Jennifer" by Faust was genius too. Going into Hawkwind was pretty sweet as well, and a Too Fast For Love appearance is always welcome. I've been listening to this new Landed CD a lot, it's a retrospective kind of thing with tracks from their whole decade-plus-and-counting career. It comes with a 3" CD as well, and it's out on Load Records. They were/are kind of a missing link between early-mid-90s Jesus Lizard grind and the 2000s post-everything noise-punk explosion. There's a certain glazed-eyed trance-out aspect to what they do that really has me hooked, whether it's a slow doom tempo with an agitated riff, or a pummeling uptempo riff that they'll drive up towards the 10-minute-mark. There's a lot more that could be said about this band and maybe I'll do it one of these days. After this I had to pull out another late-1990s Fort Thunder/Providence/Load staple and play two Lightning Bolt tracks, my favorite from the Wonderful Rainbow album ("Dracula Mountain") and my favorite from their debut (the ridiculously heavy "Fleeing The Valley Of The Whirling Knives"). And by the way, as we listen to the aforementioned Remko Scha cooldown, I've always wondered, who is that guy with the accent on the first Lightning Bolt LP saying "I thought I'd let you know, uh, next time you go to buy a record and you think you're really alternative and groovy and everyone is into the alternative charts...."? What is that from? And by the way once again, this first Lightning Bolt album RULES. Sure, I'm like you, I got sick of the crowds and them playing on the floor too, and stopped going to see 'em a good five or six years ago.... and yeah, I thought Hypermagic Mountain was actually very strong but still not quite essential... and no, I haven't actually put on this, their first LP from 1999 for like... man.... at least not since the day this CD reissue came out, which I guess was 2002 or something? (The Load Records website says that the LP came out in 1997 and the CD reissue was in 1999 but I SWEAR THAT'S NOT TRUE.... I heard it streamed live on Tom Smith's WFMU radio show in 1999 and then ordered a copy of the LP direct from the label, I'm sure this was in 1999, there's no way the record had been out two years when all that was happening, right?) Either way, I had forgotten how often I played this those first couple years, and it sounds incredible coming after Landed, because it takes Landed's structural innovations (extended repetition, 8 minute plus song lengths, controlling of extreme noise in a rock-band context) and just plays the shit out of 'em, with Chippendale's non-stop scribble drumming and Gibson's ridiculous bass tone. And really, this first Lightning Bolt album makes their next two records seem almost 'pop'... it's noisier, especially a couple of the shorter tracks, with brutal edits and lots of distortion in the mix... also, even though the opening track is a song played live, based on a complex riff, the playing is kind of 'free jazz' for the first few minutes, which will have its detractors, but by the time the riff becomes 100% you've got Black Sabbath, King Crimson, Black Flag, Cliff Burton, Hawkwind, Merzbow, and Phil Glass all fighting in the mix, so it's hard for me to complain. That was the track Tom played on WFMU, "Into the Valley," and it blew my mind. I literally have not listened to The Ruins since. Anyway, memories...


1. It's not a real radio station.
2. It's not an iTunes radio station.
3. It's not a podcast.
4. You can't listen to it except with your imagination.
5. All playlists document an imaginary two-hour DJ shift by Larry Dolman, but often run long when the next DJ is late, he's a total flake this quarter.

Monday, September 29, 2008


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Relaxin' at home on a Friday night = time to put all 831 of my Dead mp3s on shuffle. Oops, first two songs played are two different versions of "Brown-Eyed Woman." Not a bad song, but not the hottest way to start a sesh. Song three gets it back on track a little, one of those slow-ass versions of "Friend of the Devil" they started doing in the later 1970s, this one from the decent official live Dead Set album, recorded in 1980, released in '81. Mydland's fake-Hammond organ solo isn't helping too much but I really do like this exquisitely slow arrangement, even if Garcia got the idea only after hearing Kenny Loggins himself do the song that way. Another reason I really like this slow version is, believe it or not, Donna Jean's gorgeous harmony vocal on the chorus. She actually was considered a great studio singer for the legendary Fame Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama (she's on Percy Sledge's "When A Man Loves A Woman" and Elvis's "Suspicious Minds"!), but apparently she just never felt as comfortable as a live singer. Of course, there were other adjustments she had to make too: "In Paris, stoned on acid, I found myself lying under the piano, digging the Grateful Dead - and then realized, 'Oh, no. I sing with this band! How am I possibly going to be able to get it together to do that?'" Back to here on earth, hmm, this hasn't been the most exciting Dead shuffle so far - now it's playing a 20-minute "Franklin's Tower" from 1979... it is from a fairly renowned two-night stand at the Cape Cod Coliseum, but this tune, even though it always has some great moments, is ultimately too monotonous for me... the song only has two chords and it never lets you forget it... next up is "China Cat Sunflower" from 1974... it's great, but it's gonna take just a little more than yet another China Rider from 1973-1975 to get me going tonight... in other words, I'm gonna cheat a little and shuffle ahead... oh I know, I'll just play "Operator" from American Beauty, what a beautiful wistful song, a Pigpen composition and he sings it so well... "She could be hangin' round the steel mill/Workin' in a house of blue lights/Ridin' a getaway bus out of Portland/Talkin' to the night/I don't know where she's goin'/ I don't care where she's been/Long as she's been doin' it right"..... hell yeah, that should recharge things... and indeed, up next is a "Goin' Down The Road Feeling Bad" from 1974 that sounds just right. Sweet laid-back boogie tune. It's one of those Dead tunes that seem like it could be totally hateable in an 'I need a miracle to take me to the promised land but it's all good Jack Straw' kinda way, but it wins me over every time with that soft boogie, every bit as chill as what J.J. Cale was doing around the same time.

Alright, enough Dead though, I'm going to put another band on shuffle that I have almost as many mp3s of (757): Sun City Girls. Should be a slightly different vibe. First up is a great forgotten number off of Kaliflower, "Archaeopteryx in the Slammer." Recorded outdoors, probably overseas, 'non-traditional' instruments, I can hear Alan's droning chant vocals over the top, but who knows who is or isn't playing on this one. Next is "Electric Bovine Method," from the 'late-mid-period' soundtrack Dulce, released on vinyl in 1996, just reissued on CD in 2008. Pretty stunning improvisational mood-piece, deep electronics, harsh lightly effected dirge violin (probably by Eyvind Kang), instrumental except maybe those are some deep-reverb hummed vocals, or maybe that's more violin, the whole thing sounds almost as serious as AMM or MEV themselves... then it's into a couple spoken word type tracks from their late-period 'radio show' sequence (CFR's #11-14 to be exact), when a good 66.666667% of each album didn't even seem to be music, more like 'broadcasting,' brief blast-collages, straight-up spoken word, or answering machine messages like the one that just played from Harmony Korine (aka Laird Henn)... and from that right into "Theme 5" from Box of Chameleons, stately but ramshackle 2-minute piano theme, then right into another piano tune, this one a Gocher-crooned ballad from The Handsome Stranger (CFR #8) called "The Calcium Kiss," which Al & Rick were playing on this year's Brothers Unconnected tour... then it's right into another song they were playing on that tour, Gocher's epic "Book of Revelations," originally the final track on the beyond-epic double-disc Dante's Disneyland Inferno, this mp3 being a recording of the only time they ever played it live as Sun City Girls, which was on March 30, 1996, at Moe's in Seattle. This has never been released, but I've got it because SCG heads have been passing this audience recording around for awhile... just like Deadheads, eh? What's next, oh man, "Sun Suck Town," a song that definitely finds them in their 'skatepunk joke band' guise, except that it's better than literally 99.9% of all skatepunk joke bands. "Who's your favorite president?" they ask over an extreme no-minded lunkhead repeato-riff that never breaks for a second. "Mine is a secret/No I guess I'll tell you it's CALVIN COOLIDGE!!!" Oh shit, next is the Torch of the Mystics version of "Cafe Batik." They played this song at the Empty Bottle in November 2002, I was there, and that version sounded even better than this one, Alan nailed every single note. I remember sitting on my couch in 1994, right after buying the Torch CD used for ten bucks somewhere, playing this for J. Merritt of the Cheyntara band (now with U.S. Scientists) and we were just flipping out at the blaring Asian/Venusian falsetto vocal. "WEIRD!" I remember J. exclaiming, and this was a guy who knew weird... next is the 15-minute dust-metal guitar/bass/drums psychedelic instro jam "Libyan Dream," the title track and album closer for the CFR #7 CD, one of the best of the CFR series, "originally released as 50 cassette copies dropped in cassette vendors racks in various cities throughout SE Asia in 1993".... man, more great shit after this... I'm still surprised by the breadth and depth of this band, really... and it's all "punk rock" maaan...

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Hilarious Beatles YouTube. (Lennon's bit at the end, damn! He didn't even write "Eleanor Rigby"!) Here's more of the press conference, it's pretty interesting how surly they are.

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Just realizing tonight how much of the great heavy rock music of the 1970s can be described as POST-CREAM. First I was reading about Rush and how their inspiration for the initial heavy trio years was Cream, and then I'm listening to the I'm Gonna Take You Home album by Yahowa 13, and they are clearly also a post-Cream wandering/driving/improvising heavy power trio. Ash Ra Tempel too, of course, side one of their self-titled debut album is like the ultimate post-Cream expression possible... and even the Jimi Hendrix Experience could be regarded as post-Cream, as they were formed just a couple months after Cream's first gigs... Hendrix was reportedly a fan... hell, Iommi/Butler/Ward were probably thinking of Cream too when they started jamming. I don't even think Cream was that great, I think all the post-Cream bands are better. I mean, of course Cream was great, Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker were a MONSTROUS rhythm section, and the band had plenty of good songs too, which is where these bands fail most often. Of course they would have been even greater with a guitarist that wasn't actually God, like Randy Holden or Billy TK or one of the guys from Socrates Drank The Conium or Alex Lifeson or whoever, you could literally name a couple dozen. Now sure, I know it's hip to say that Eric Clapton isn't that great, and sure, I'll admit he made some good music, even outside of Cream . . . I'll give him maybe 60% of Layla and Assorted Love Songs, I'll give him "Let It Grow" and "Let It Rain," and I'll actually give him all of his mellow J.J. Cale imitation stuff (it's just occurred to me that his overall oeuvre is so basically lame that the 1976 Cale-wannabe album Slowhand is probably the strongest non-Cream non-Layla release of his entire career), but that's IT. Seriously, Eric Clapton was NOT THAT GREAT. He is the single biggest example I have ever seen of the fabled lead guitarist who knows a whole buncha hot licks but has a hard time consistently playing MUSIC.

I give you as evidence this YouTube. It should be all you need. I mean, this is Cream era we're talking about, so it should be Clapton at his raddest, right? I mean the guitar paint job is awesome, right? Then why is this such an incredibly lame guitar demonstration? I mean, he gets ready to show us something called "the woman tone" but then spends at least a full minute rambling on about his tone knobs and pickup settings. When he finally plays something, it's a few brief seconds of un-musical un-melodic blues-rock piffle.

Here's some other examples of mediocrity... "Yer Blues" was never really the greatest Beatles tune, it's more a heavy pop-art statement than a song, and Clapton does NOT manage to set it on fire on this kinda turgid and sloppy version by ad hoc John Lennon group The Dirty Mac (from The Rolling Stones Rock'n'Roll Circus, of course). I mean, sure, Clapton's solo has that undeniable "cutting tone," but once again, he's not even trying to play music, just licks, licks, licks, and half-hearted ones at that. Lennon's solo may be absurdist and minimalist but it's a lot more rock'n'roll, and at least it actually tells a story. Keith Richards, even on bass, is definitely playing music and not licks. (Mitch Mitchell does not impress me on this clip either, he sounds perfunctory on the verses and kinda lost during the raveup section.)

And hmm, after this indifferent 'hot licks' intro, maybe I take back what I said about his J.J. Cale era:

Now just for the sake of comparison, after that lethargic blues piffle, check out this Magic Sam video (as posted on the Arthurmagblog)... Magic Sam is a guy who has probably never made anyone's Top 10 Guitar Gods lists, but just look at this.... jump ahead to 3:30 if you wanna really cut to the chase... picture the guy in the three previous clips next to this and please note that he is NOT holding a candle:

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Geez, I've just been watching Paul Thomas Anderson interviews on YouTube all night... It started because I heard Slayer was good on the Henry Rollins Show, so I went looking for that, but I ended up watching a PTA interview from 2006 on there first, for the presumed There Will Be Blood content (I thought it was a really good movie), and things just snowballed. I had actually never seen the guy talk before so it's been interesting. There's been stories about how high he his in interviews, but in this Rollins one I found him pretty cool and down-to-earth (probably because he's a dad now) and I liked what he had to say about TWBB, which he was just about to start shooting.

After that I backtracked to an early interview, with Mike Figgis, mostly about Boogie Nights. This time he's maybe a little too cool, a little too nervy, though waving a piece of half-eaten pizza around is a nice touch.

Someone in the comments section for that one was like "He's not high here, you want to see him all coked-up go to the three-part interview on Punch-Drunk Love," and I think they might have been talking about this next one. It's not insane or anything but it is a little tweaky and kinda unpleasant, mostly because of his affected 'I might be unpredictable!' mannerisms and how little of substance he's actually able to dredge up as he dodges the questions. Big difference from the Rollins interview.

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Geez, I've just been watching 2000s noise-punk videos all night. Started out with a Russian Tsarcasm performance, which was cool, which immediately got me into some Dynasty, not clips from the TV show about Blake Carrington and the gang but the Providence noise/punk/art/damage trio featuring the guy from Kites and a couple other guys.

This clip is my introduction to this band. At first I was impressed by the craziness of this clip but it had dwindled by the end. I think it's because for the last few days I've been listening to the new career retrospective-type CD How Little Will It Take by Landed, a longer-running Providence noise/punk/art/damage band, and after absorbing their music, Dynasty kinda seems like a tribute band, less interested in actual music than they are the 'craziness' that it can generate. I feel like their drummer is the only one actually required to play riffs - the two guitarists can both stop playing their instruments due to whatever isolated melee happens to be erupting and the sound of the song doesn't even change. Compared to this, Landed play music as sleek and sharp and detailed as techno. Dynasty do threaten to hit this mark with one song, in the video below, from roughly 3:00-5:00 - the drummer is still the main riff instrument, but the guitarists do get a serious chug going and some real hands-on transubstantiation occurs instead of just gestures and postures.

After Dynasty, I started watching some clips by The Coughs. Damn, memories... this is a Chicago band and I'll never forget when they exploded into my consciousness, at the 2002 University of Chicago Festival of Marginalized Subgenres, massively and awesomely coordinated by Tim Aher (RIP). Plenty of notable acts put on great sets: Burning Star Core, Vertonen, Cock ESP, Panicsville, the debut performance by Gays in the Military, Behold the Living Corpse, RETSILRATS (they just sat at a table and ate food), a couple hardcore bands, and then this large band I'd never heard of started setting up. They had a lot of people and appeared to have at least two drummers playing 'industrial percussion' and maybe even TV screens playing 'subversive video collage', so naturally I assumed they'd be lame, but then they started and almost immediately reached down the collective throat of everyone watching and ripped our guts out with completely focused steamrolling industrial hate-punk. The singer looked like Mary Poppins's evil twin and spent most of the show stalking the audience like a sharply dressed screaming death angel. About a year or so after that they put out a good full-length on Load, but it didn't come close to that show, and I haven't found a clip that really does either... these are enough to get an idea, at least. As one commenter succinctly states, "They have dark powers."

Shit man, speaking of dark powers, this isn't too bad, The Hospitals live in 2005.

And of course there's always the Magik Markers in their pissing-people-off trio heyday... check out the end, I always like Ms. Ambrogio's 'talking to the crowd nowhere near a microphone' bit.

And somehow all this got me to, holy shit, an 8-minute Venusian blues guitar jam by Moncho Conlazo himself! Not noise rock:

If you don't know, Conlazo was an absolutely crucial member of the Argentinian legends Reynols... they definitely had some dark powers going on too, scan this documentary for the ghost-trance performance sections:

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Geez, I've just been watching gravity blast YouTubes all night... "There's nothin' to it, dude! Here, watch it in real life!"

Saturday, September 20, 2008


SIR RICHARD BISHOP Plays Sun City Girls 7" (NO-FI) This is a great record. When it first came out I passed on it, I mean I already have a good 30 Sun City Girls releases not to mention 5 or 6 of Sir Rick's, but I got lured into Reckless on Milwaukee Ave today by the new Eddy Current Suppression Ring LP and there this was in the used bin for $10.99, and here I was with a good $80 in credit burning the colloquial hole in my wallet, so boom. Not the cheapest price, but considering one is on ebay right now for $14.99 with one bid and a couple days left, not bad. SCG records really are worth some money, it's just that simple. But anyway, I knew this would be a good record, a fine record, but it turns out it's a great record - Ricardo is ON, just sitting in a chair and blowing through a fast and hyper "Esoterica of Abysynnia" and an exquisite "Space Prophet Dogon" on the flip. It also reminds me just how excellent their new Brothers Unconnected tour-only CD is, this time both Rick and Alan sitting in chairs, blowing through 12 or 13 classics, including another "Space Prophet Dogon" for the ages. That CD is so good that even though it was released with no packaging, just a disc in a plain white tyvek window envelope, it's already going for 20-30 bucks on the Bay. (Check here first.)

TITMACHINE We Build A New City 7" (SILTBREEZE) Remember when I used to always quote my kids in reviews? Haven't done it in awhile, but Li'l Phil is 5 now and he likes rock'n'roll, so it was bound to happen sooner or later. Tonight I got this one out of the sleeve and told him it was gonna be "a little crazy." He says "I love crazy music!" I said, "Okay, good!" He says, "What's it called?" and I had to just chuckle and say it: "Titmachine!" He says, "Titmachine?! Alright, I love machines!" Perfect, huh? We play Side A "We Build A New City" and I say "It's not THAT crazy," because it's punk rock and he's fairly used to what can only be called out-and-out noise coming from the stereo, and in fact he comes back with "It's not crazy at all!" I'm sure he was just commenting on Titmachine's natural all-female Dutch-punk charm, because let me assure you, this 7" is pretty crazy. The A side title-track has a lurching harsh stun-bass groove and the high nasal vocal hook just grinds away, I love it. B side "1989" isn't as immediately classic but it's not a letdown either... a fine record.

BILLY BAO Accumulation 7" (XEROX MUSIK) I already have mp3s of this but when I saw it at Reckless I had to buy it in order to complete a Bao trilogy of sorts along with the Fuck Separation 10" and the Dialectics of Shit LP. All three records are great. With each one, the titles alone begin a manifesto that continues throughout the design and concept and words and is finished by the sound itself. Look at the way the Accumulation concept presents itself: 10 tracks, 10 titles, each title a little longer than the last, the titles printed down the front cover as a concrete poem (see below). Each track is exactly one minute long with a short break in between, and the music is wholly appropriate to the increasingly harsh imagery in the song titles. At first it practically sounds like Bao is bellowing vocals over a single pounding drum, but each track gets progressively denser than the last one, bringing in more and more guitars and noise and especially tormented vocal overdubs, you know, a succinct and visceral illustration of the process by which industrial and/or consumerist accumulation leads to self-immolation. (Alternate title in my head: "The Ballad of Malachi Ritscher.")

NED LAGIN/PHIL LESH SEASTONES LP (ROUND RECORDS) Stoked to find this LP from Phil Lesh's infamous 'harsh noise' side project in the Grateful Dead bin at Reckless. It was $16.99 for a cover in so-so condition, but hey, credit. Nice looking LP anyway - Phil (Dolman not Lesh) loved the cover, figuring that if it was called "seastones" the art must represent the sea through a microscope, tiny bits of sand, bacteria, and other things on the molecular level. We even read some of the tripped-out uncredited poetry on the back - "tingling/tip of/beach/downily/oceans of warm rustling/quivering up/thinning likeness/wave planes/splashing/water beads/her own tip/pointed/grass blade dripping/waiting..." Whoah, "her own tip/pointed"?! First "titmachine," now this... On the center labels the album is credited to Ned Lagin and Phil Lesh; on the back cover, there is just a band-style credit list, in which Lagin is top-billed ("written and composed by," not to mention "Piano, Percussion, Computers, Synthesizers, Keyboards*," and ahem, here's what that asterisk leads to: "*Interdata 7/16 computer with high speed arithmetic logic unit, Eu Modular Synthesizer, Arp 2500, Arp Odyssey, Electro-Comp, Buchla Modular System, Programmable Bioelectronic I/O Microprocessor (Intel 8080), prepared piano, clavichord, organ") while Lesh is second-billed with just "Electric Bass." Garcia is credited with "Electric Guitar, Vocals," Mickey Hart is credited with "Gongs," and that's it from the Dead; famous friends Crosby and Slick both lend vocals, and so do Freiberg and Dryden from New Riders of the Purple Sage. But I can't hear any of that stuff. All I hear is electronics and synthesizers, and often not much of that... it's a sparse haunting record and it seems to be Lagin's show all the way. By the way, I asked Li'l Phil what he thought 10 minutes in and he said "It doesn't sound like a record!" (Okay, second time through and I do hear the vocals, but they don't come along too often and when they do they're chopped up and nearly unrecognizable. I still haven't cracked the code as far as hearing Garcia's guitar, or the "Alembic Electric 12 String Guitar" that Crosby is also credited with... must all be processed to hell...)

EDDY CURRENT SUPPRESSION RING: Primary Colours LP (GONER) As I said, Reckless had this in stock and it was the bait that lured me in to the store. I was gonna order it direct from Goner but I figured this would be easier, and it was... but I didn't get colored vinyl. I don't usually care about that stuff, but this time I kinda did. It's so thematic for once..... Anyway, I already reviewed this waaaaay back in Blastitude #26 (here), they're one of the best new (minimalist) rock bands I've heard in years and it's probably going to be my #1 album of 2008. Vinyl sounds good.

(Mine's yellow.)

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GRATEFUL DEAD @ Jai-Alai Fronton, Miami, FL, 74/06/23, 2nd Set, streaming @ Archive.org. And this is not from Reckless, in fact it's not even a record, but it was inspired directly by my Seastones purchase.... while spinning said purchase back home, I poked around the internet for any Seastonestories, of which there aren't too many (although this one is alright, as recounted by Lesh: "German audiences, when they don't like something, whistle. They started whistling because they didn't like it, so Ned just picked up on the whistling and started fucking with them - he made his synthesizer start to whistle, and he whistled along with them. Pretty soon, they were whistling with him and they didn't even know it. He has that kind of sense of humor."). I also pulled out the A Long Strange Trip book and learned that the first time Lagin and Lesh ever played it live was June, 1974 in Miami. Author Dennis McNally reports that feelings were generally positive if a little mixed about the debut performance, but that the second set by the Grateful Dead immediately following was exceptionally good. So I head over to Deadlists.com to get the date (June 23) and then zip on over to Archive.org to stream it... the Seastones set pretty much sounds like harsh noise to me, and McNally was right, the Dead set is pretty sweet. Very slow and mellow (this is only a month after one of their ultimate slow/mellow shows, 74/5/19 Missoula, MT) with a well-regarded "Dark Star." (Kreutzmann being the MVP... such a great drummer... on here he does some repeating martial trance rhythms that remind me of, I don't know, Ed Blackwell??)

(BTW thought I'd use this space to throw up a nice description of Grateful Dead music that I just came across. It's by Joe Gallant, New York City avant-jazz musician and smut producer of some reknown. I actually saw him play once in New York City, his huge 18-piece band Illuminati opening up for the Art Ensemble of Chicago, doing an over-the-top version of the whole Blues For Allah album. It was pretty impressive, sure, but I didn't really like it... I didn't know the album at all then, but I don't think that would've helped too much. Anyway, here's Gallant's description/tribute (it's from this page - the whole interview is worth a look, he's got a way with words and has led an interesting life): "The Dead's alembic contained it all: Rock ’n Roll, Country and City Blues, mountain music, whistling back-alley Burma-Shave Americana, rigorous 20th Century orchestral influences, terrifying dark psychological improvisations, jagged vivisectionist feedback, gentle Celtic whispers, flatfoot carny "Hey, Rube!" goofiness, Mideastern percussion textures. Like a canal city, their tributaries wend and twine."

* * * * * * * * * *
Also got this stuff in the mail recently...

SKELETON WARRIOR/PHARAOH FAUCETT split 7" (ROOFLESS) This one comes from the weirdo Sarasota FL scene that showed up on the blog once a few months ago. Package had a Philly address, which is interesting - did they move there to be closer to the roots of today's weirdpunk? And/or to The Roots? Just joking, especially because they already seem to be doing fine at their own game, improving on the already good stuff they previously sent along. Skeleton Warrior play an extended rambling teenage tinkertoy psych-prog with constant scramble and wobble, refreshingly instrumental, with almost-melodic bloops and bleeps and surprise backwards-masking disorientation.... and right at the end an acoustic guitar anthem even emerges, nestled among the warping electronics. Somebody's gotta be the next Parasites of the Western World, is anyone else gonna step up? On the flip the rather absurdly named Pharaoh Faucett play it a little more straight-ahead, with a more standard post-nerd/farfisa panic rock style, but the blow-outage of the band and recording is notably aggressive, with classic male/female trade-off punk vox keening over the top. Works for me. Impressive psychedelic-maze pen-and-ink cover art too.

MARRIED IN BIRDICHEV 7" (GILGONGO RECORDS) This is by a woman who does music alone with voice and FX , with press-sheet comparisons to Grouper and Inca Ore, and the label is run by a member of that fine desert improv collective called Tent City, so I was hoping to like this, but... without all the weird sounds and electronic strangeness venting in the background, I just don't know if the songs could stand alone, like they would be unmasked as middle-of-the-road emo grunge ballads or something.

CALDERA LAKES CS (DEATHBOMB ARC) This is a duo of Eva Aguila, who records noise music as Kevin Shields, and Brittany Gould, who records as the aforementioned Married in Birdichev. The latter's grunge balladry tendency is still in evidence here, but it finds a more challenging and rewarding home in collaboration with Ms. Aguila. Side A "Silent Something" is a killer track, a slowly rising boil that comes to a head as Gould's singing digs deeper and deeper into real actual song territory. She sounds Christina Carter-worthy here, especially 3/4 of the way through when she hits the refrain of "Don't you do that" a few times, cueing Aguila to really stir shit up and turn the track into a full-fledged noise jam. Side B "Shotgun" threatens to take off in a similar way but never quite does... definitely would like to hear more though.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

PREVIEW FROM BLASTITUDE #27 (some record reviews)

PINK REASON: Winona 7" (WOODSIST) Apparently the 6-minute country dirge ballad "Winona" is the first song Kevin Failure wrote as Pink Reason. (Backstory on the song here if you missed it, scroll down to July 3.) I guess that means the version on the A-side of this 7" might have been recorded before he did the Cleaning the Mirror LP. Either way, much like that LP, "Winona" is Pink Reason in slowest-ballad downer narcosis-mode, which around here still means "exquisite." And Side B has two cuts, an excellent weird deep-voice paranoid song called "Give Yerself Away" and then a short shambling and possibly despairing good-bye that goes "It's aaaaaall over now...." over and over. Another great single by Pink Reason, simple as that.

SCARCITY OF TANKS: No Endowments CS (TOTAL LIFE SOCIETY) Damn, this tape smokes. I mean it's practically a Saccharine Trust tribute album, but that's a pretty admirable target and Scarcity of Tanks hit a bullseye. Matthew Wascovich, whom you may know from his Cleveland-based Slow Toe imprint, writes and voices the fightin' words and, I assume, plays the screeching and cutting guitar (actually a little more Mark Morgan than Joe Baiza to these ears). No credits so I don't know who the rhythm section is but it is most definitely bass and drums and the players are going for it.(UPDATE: The album features a few different lineups, featuring members from Cleveland bands "x-blank-x, ugly beauty, my dad is dead, prisonshake, pufftube, numbskull, self destruct button," along with some guitar, bass, and drums contributed by none other than Weasel Walter... vinyl version coming out in December!)

SIC ALPS: US EZ LP (SILTBREEZE) Eeeeehhhhhh.... I mean I like it..... it's not bad.... but it just ain't Description of the Harbor.... or Pleasures and Treasures... or even Teenage Alps.... I've listened to this new full-length a good three times and it certainly sounds right, that dusted heavy 1960s garage pop mod Skip Spence-meets-early-Who sound that this duo has been working, plenty of vibe and aura and all that.... but I feel like they got the sound and then played around with it without really writing any songs, at least none that immediately laser-beam into my brain like "Semi-Streets" or "The Surgeon and the Slave"....

JOZEF VAN WISSEM: A Priori CD (INCUNABULUM) I can't believe this is a solo lute album... and it's good. Composed, not improvised, so no "funny" playing. It breathes, it's got space, contemplation, patience, timelessness (could be ancient, could be the future), the press-sheet comparison to Satie is right on... this is good music.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Hepatitis (B) Youth CS
Russian Tsarlag CS

Napolean Blownaparte
Sometimes It Hurts CS

A package from the Rockford, IL based Green Tape label arrived a couple days ago and it's kind of blowing my mind a little bit this morning. First tape out was by Hepatitis Youth, or is it Hepatitis (B) Youth? I mean I've heard of Hepatitis Youth, let's see... (lethargic brain tendrils slowly uncurling to pull up information).... ah yes, there they are, a band from Tampa, Florida.... yes, yes, the Cephia's Treat label.... wild crew... buncha kids... a collective with changing membership... they play shows outside.... that was a few years ago, and I'm not sure if this tape is from then or not, but it sounds great. Side A sounds like one person on probing, airy, non-played bass guitar tone clusters, another person on some seriously involved distorto guitar playing, at least one more dragging any manner of metallo-garbage all over the room, and some non-overwhelming incantatory vocals poking in and out of the mix as well. The best thing is, it sounds like a live band! Ah, remember that? Side B also sounds live, but takes away that awesome guitar and bass playing for what sounds like a voice-based crowd-participation outdoor recording. In the meantime, the internet hath told me that, in the years since their 2003-ish Tampa-based heyday, people from the original Hepatitis Youth crew have moved all over the place and formed a few offshoot bands, and that Hepatitis B Youth are the "north" wing and this tape is indeed by them. Green Tape website seems to call it the "breaking barriers cassingle," and it's a co-release with the Friends & Relatives label.

Funny that the next tape is by Russian Tsarlag because the vocals on the Hepatitis B Youth tape made me think of that guy's vocals. Have you heard this guy, Russian Tsarlag? More 'commonly' 'known' as Russian Tsarcasm? Totally weird mostly solo mustachioed kid. Clattery methodical kitchen percussion, or maybe just awkward handclapping, a frail odd and somewhat disdainful voice repeating phrases over and over, and seemingly not much else. You could make a comparison to Shadow Ring, but it's somehow even more reduced than that. First time I heard him was a tape on Bone Tooth Horn and I thought I hated it until the last 5 minutes or so, when I suddenly realized I liked it. The sound didn't change, but I did. Now I love it, and guess what, that is him on the Hepatitis (B) Youth tape - his real name, Carlos Gonzalez, is listed first out of 12 people. This Tsarlag tape is just about as short as can be, maybe 2 minutes per side. It sounds really far away and murky, but play it twice and his cryptic phrases really start to insinuate. Sweet looking color cover art too. For more Tsarcasm, check out this live show on youtube - the 'studio' recordings are a little more conversational, quiet, and obtuse, but damn....

Now, Napoleon Blownaparte have a funny name, but some of the music on their Sometimes It Hurts CS is pretty serious. Not all of it, but some of it. The basic template seems to be two people, one on drums/percussion, and the other on guitar, keyboards, whatever, making messy and aggressive duo improv music. It starts with guitar/percussion and a similar zoned drive to the Hepatitis B Youth tape, which is quite good, but then switches to keyboard/percussion and gets kind of crazy and silly, and then on the flip side keeps the harsh rambling approach going before settling into a laser-beam drone and driving percussion. Probably the most run-of-the-mill of these three tapes, but this band does have a pretty heavy and cutting approach that makes it a cut above the pack. Seems like a pretty good label...

Well, that's all for today, folks. I'll leave you with some inspirational closing comments from Jeru the Damaja: "Don't forget or have you forgot that I'm a surgeon, Ak-Bar, once outran a jaguar/Slept in a lion's den and escaped without a scar/Close my eyes and commence the star travel/Fred Flintstone's out a job because I turn hard rocks to gravel/Babble, never, control the weather/Like a few jams back, whatever's clever/Even the rudest of rude can't test because I'm protected/with the Breastplate of Righteousness/and that's just how I'm living."

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

RICK WRIGHT 1943-2008. He was an unassuming presence but his abandoned-cathedral organ playing and fat synth hooks are echoing through the minds of millions, whether they know it or not. The real signature sound of Pink Floyd. (And that's him singing lead on "Astronomy Domine"!)

Thursday, September 11, 2008


Super Jay "Super Jay Love Theme" (Hit Makers of America)
Boogie Down Productions "My Philosophy" (Jive)
Black Moon "How Many MCs" (Wreck)
Mark Morrison "Return of the Mack" (Atlantic)
Shackleton "Death Is Not Final" (Skull Disco)
Frolk Haven "Oracle Or Delphi"
Sand "Old Loggerhead" (United Durtro)
Amon Duul "Love Is Peace" (Captain Trip)
Emeralds "Mistakes" (Gods of Tundra)
Souled American "Make Me Laugh Make Me Cry" (tUMULt)
Souled American "True Swamp Too" (tUMULt)
Souled American "Ringside Suite" (Yeti #4)
Kurt Vile "Slow Talkers" (Gulcher)

Got some long cuts this time. But first, show starts with some hip hop, the 1980 12" single by Super Jay with its spacey loose vibe. The BDP track is one of the many hip-hop singles that turned my head around when it was in rotation on Yo! MTV Raps. KRS-One is a fine storyteller and a great battle rapper ("I don't play around, nor do I F around/And you can tell by the bodies that get left around")... I don't know if his "teacher/edutainer" persona has aged as well but he really did make me think about some heavy stuff back when I was 17 years old... like vegetarianism! The Black Moon track has an incredible vibe, production by Evil Dee. And next, "THERE IT IS, OH MY GOD," it's Mark Morrison with "Return of the Mack." I was on tour with a band when this song was big, and we kept hearing it places, like at restaurants or whatever, and it was so good that whenever we had a long drive (in other words, every day), we started tuning in pop and/or R&B radio stations until it came on. And, even if it would take a couple hours, it always did. Then, at the very end of our tour we played a show in Iowa City with The Regrets (post-Vitreous Humour) and they had the song playing over the PA while they walked onstage! Next, continuing to ease us out of strict hip-hop and R&B, here's some dubstep from Shackleton. I've heard a decent amount of dubstep by now but I still don't really know exactly what makes the genre what it is. I mean, I can hear a dubstep-type bassline in my head, sure, but this killer "Death Is Not Final" tune doesn't sound like that mold at all to me, more like Afrobeat drone or something. And now for something completely different, but somehow not a bad segue from Shackleton, comes a 20-minute psych freakout by Frolk Haven. You might recognize this as the weird prog band in which the teenage Stewart Copeland played drums, just a few years before he went on to fame and fortune with The Police. They self-released an LP in 1972 with the classic title At The Apex Of High, and I guess I hadn't realized until now just how messed up their music was. In fact, I'm pleasantly surprised. This "Oracle of Delphi" epic is crazy, filled with spaced-out bashing and weird mutant-termite gnashing. Seriously, what drugs were this kids on? It almost has to be 'none' to be this weird. And whoah, Sand is another legendary (NWW list) band from Germany that I've never heard until now. Can't believe this LP is from 1971. It has a futuristic vibe, with tranced technoid rhythms, but yet the instrumentation is mostly trad folk/rock. One of the strangest sans-drums rhythmic bands I've heard. Can't explain it right now, but this 11-minute hypnotic-but-edgy song "Old Loggerhead" is a perfect example. Maybe like Amon Duul's Paradieswarts Duul (chill acoustic instrumentation) but with a nervous uptempo rhythm instead of a downtempo sprawl. Hell, as long as we're playing long cuts, let's listen to that Amon Duul album. I always think "Love Is Peace" is going to be the 'obvious' track on here, but there's nothing obvious about this 20-minute monster. It's very hippy dippy ("love is peace, freedom is harmony"), but it also has some surprisingly angular rhythms and progressions, and some of the craziest changes in structure... for years I didn't know how they got from Part A to Part B to Part C, and in fact I still don't know, and I just played it on the radio. Annnnd one more long cut, the gorgeous mist-dreamer by Emeralds called "Mistakes." Allegory of Allergies is no doubt the initial masterpiece from these guys, and I wonder if they'll actually top it... Solar Bridge is thought by many to be as good or better but it just isn't happening for me. So far Allegory has been released on double cassette only (C60's) by the Gods of Tundra label, probably in a very small and indeterminate edition. There is supposed to be a double vinyl version coming out on the Weird Forest label, but it's been delayed for awhile and they'll probably have to remove a pretty big chunk of music for it anyway.... triple LP, anyone? Alright, change of pace time from epic post-kraut dream music and into lost-highway-running-past-abandoned-shopping-center-in-a-Midwestern-town-of-18,000-people-with-Marley-on-the-car-stereo music by Souled American. Two amazing tracks from their debut album Fe, but I already talked about them just last post. And nothing like a spacey Kurt Vile ballad from Constant Hitmaker to bring things home....

Monday, September 08, 2008

Fire, Water, Air Golden Sunrise
Pete Fine On A Day Of Crystalline Thought
Souled American Fe
Souled American Flubber
Suarasama Fajar di Atas Awan

In 1977, a couple years after the passing of Father Yod from his earthly body in 1975, the core of his Yahowha 13 band (Djin on guitar, Sunflower on bass, Octavius on drums) convened as a band called Fire, Water, Air and recorded an 8-track only (!) release called Golden Sunrise. They were joined by the one and only Sky Saxon (aka Arlick) on vocals and Pythias on second guitar. This album was reissued as part of the God and Hair 13-disc box on Captain Trip, and other than the masterful Penetration album, it might be my favorite disc in the whole box. It took a while - at first I thought the music was pretty doofoid, and in fact I kinda still do, but this one hook, "Foo-ood, foo-ood, food for the hungry!," from the song "Food For The Hungry," just kept going through my head and I really started to appreciate the whole session as some sort of crazed R&B garage band playing ragged and spaced-out but tough-as-nails hard rock. The epic ambition and intense cosmic atmosphere of Ash Ra Tempel, but played with the far cruder chops and American greaser grit of Blue Cheer or Grand Funk. Look no further than "Wolf Pack," a feral 8-minute jam that really sprawls out and gets messy, with Sky pushing his vocals out there (pushing hard, maybe even, I don't know, pushing too hard....on me.....too haaaard) and driving the crazed stomping and roaming jam. "Howling at the city/Aaaaaaaooooo!/Wolf pack!/Wolf pack!" In fact, this track is so much like another sprawling and messy rant about cities, "Flowers Must Die" by Ash Ra Tempel, that it's almost uncanny. I doubt the Source Family heard that track and was directly inspired by it, but you never know... I mean, they were hip dudes and ladies, and they hung out with record-collecting world-travelling rock'n'roll people at their restaurant... Father was probably cool with krautrock imports being played on the communal hi-fi during "sharing time," right?

This Pete Fine album is nuts. Recorded in 1973, it's a wispy-voiced long-haired folk troubadour singing upbeat songs with huge, busy, dancing, cathedralic orchestrations. After one listen I found the overall sound fey-for-sure but also pretty amazing and wonderful... recommended to fans of Van Dyke Parks's Song Cycle, but more overtly hippie/mystic than that... I don't remember any one single tune, which is a little worrisome, but I am looking forward to listening to it again...

Aaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh Souled American. Their second album Flubber is starting to sound pretty essential in its own right - at first I thought it was kind of a place-holder between the head-turning debut Fe and the masterful third album Around the Horn. But Fe.... man I love this album, and it's the one I disliked the most at first. It is definitely their most upbeat album, which is a relative term, but this thing really does bounce and percolate and yelp along. You could mosh to it. (Three or four songs anyway.) But either way, the HOOKS on this thing.... I mean, the first song "Fe" starts with "I heard about your looooove..." and such a definitive Joe Adducci ballad bassline, and then goes into this epic pre-chorus with a new hook that digs deeper ("There's a certain kind of feeliiiing..."), with an even more definitive Adducci bassline, and instead of going to a chorus they just keep the pre-chorus going with what is almost a description of their entire music-making aesthetic ("Betweeen the notes... echoooooooes will loom.... back in tempo's time... locked in my room....") and then, finally, the chorus is comical bar-room sing-along stuff ("I knooooo-ow what the band fe's...") and it is indeed fun to sing along. That's just the first song, and then the second one "Field & Stream" starts with more wonderful bass guitar playing by Adducci, playing solo here, joined by vocals only for yet another superb hook that ends "write my name upon it, write my name upon it" and then the band comes in hard for a definite rocker. Seriously, SO MANY HOOKS, especially for the fourth-or-fifth-time listener: it's got "25 cent for the morphiiiiiiine, 15 cent for the beer," it's got "maaake me laugh, won't you make cry" with Chris Grigoroff just singing his guts out and an amazing verse structure ("There's a golden.....man of vision....on the TV..... where he comes from......doesn't matter......to the vote it pays/If you take this......to the highest source about you..... without question...... source says 'no vision, just plain old greed'") and a chorus bassline so slow and epicly head-banging that I can totally see why an 'art metal' label like tUMULt reissued this shit. It's got "maaaagic bullets," it's got the knock-down drag-out instrumental "True Swamp Too" (which almost comes off like some sort of hillbilly industrial metal, I'm serious).... man, what an album. Don't even get me started on Around the Horn, or the four other albums they've put out on top of that.

New from Drag City is the Suarasama CD, also released on double vinyl. Actually, it's a reissue of a 1997 album recorded in Indonesia by some ethnomusicologists. It's not a stunning album all the way through, but it really does sound nice and a few songs are excellent chilled-out and melancholy folk music, heavy on the oud. Reviewing this album for Dusted Magazine, Josie Clowney writes (along with some interesting cultural/historical stuff) "Suarasama didn't sound like a Drag City band when Fajar di Atas Awan was first released, but now they do," and yeah, with the female and male vocals and extended melancholy vibe, they really do remind me of Espers, though of course Suarasama predate them by a few years and there's no way either of them heard each other first. Also, I think Suarasama have just the slightest kosmiche/kraut-type glow to what they do, while Espers really don't (they have more of a British Isles cool, also a sweet sound).

Saturday, September 06, 2008


Okay, we've got some serious shit to look at here, but first, the irreverent prologue. This video is ridiculous but I love the song. This is 1976 and the hard rock and raw folk of The Faces era is fading away and the private jet disco era is clearly creeping in (dig that harp intro and Rod's jacket), but at least the band still has real guitars, drums, and bass.

Now let's get down to business with the real raw soul rock, "Maggie May" itself on Top of the Pops in the year 1971. The band is miming but the vocal mic is live and Rod nails it complete with great casually rocking stage presence. Speaking of which, Ronnies Wood and Lane sure are having a not-quite-so-casual good time with the mime, not to mention noted non-mandolin-playing disc jockey John Peel himself, pretending to play mandolin!

This is from the same year and the whole band is all the way live and heavy as hell:

Here's "I'm Losing You" from the same session. Don't miss the most crucial moment when the song drives into the Kenny Jones drum solo and Ron Wood is still chucking along on guitar and Ronnie Lane takes a hit from a bottle and Rod is slinking around throwing in the occasional giddy-up ad-lib, possibly while holding the mic stand upside down above his head.

And this one is really something, an epic cathedralic version of "Maybe I'm Amazed." The way Ronnie Lane's utterly sweet intro gives way to Rod's blow-out is one for the ages.

Oops, the Ron Wood connection has gotten me into a random non-musical Rolling Stones tangent. First, check out this 1969 backstage bro-down:

This next one is a lot of fun and also kind of a bummer, the radical rock and roll charisma of the ages crammed through that 1980s nadir of idiot-box commercialism, MTV. Keith truly seems like a swell guy here, hell they both do, but this might be the exact point of no return, when the band concept and album concept had officially surrendered to the new media:

And I say goodbye with Mick Jagger saying hello, live on ABC from the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal. He carries himself pretty well considering the size of the joint he clearly smoked within 10 minutes before the start of this interview. "It turns your head!!"

Friday, September 05, 2008

9/5/08 - DJ Larry Dolman

Sun City Girls "Krung Thep Cut-Up" (Abduction)*
Curtis Mayfield "Ghetto Child (Demo)" (Rhino)
Fire, Water, Air "New Revolution" (Captain Trip)
Fire, Water, Air "Food For The Hungry" (Captain Trip)
Roxy Music "Beauty Queen" (E'G)*
Vendome "Lightwave Emissions" (Wierd)*
xex "Rome On $5 A Day" (The Smack Shire)*
Studio 1 "Rosa 2" (Studio 1)
Mikey Murka "We Try" (Honest Jon's)
Marcia Aitken & Trinity "I'm Still In Love/Three Piece Suit" (Trojan)*
Milton Nascimento "Clube Da Esquina No. 2" (Hemisphere)
Milton Nascimento "Os Povos" (Hemisphere)
Reparata & the Delrons "I'm Nobody's Baby Now" (Rhino/WEA)*
Jerry Garcia "Late For Supper/Spidergawd/Eep Hour" (Warner Bros.)
Sandra Bell "Nostalgie De La Boue" (VHF)
Kuro "No More No" (Killed By Hardcore)
Gates of Slumber "Ice Worm's Lair" (Profound Lore)*
Gorgoroth "The Rite Of Infernal Invocation" (Century Media)*
Rods of God "Beef Veins" (Bone Tooth Horn)*
Richard Youngs "[Three Headed Star track 7]" (No Fans)*
Blue Sky Boys "On The Banks Of The Ohio" (Smithsonian Folkways)*

1. Man, I knew "Krung Thep Cut-Up" was a good track, but I haven't listened to it in 3-4 years and it really sounds better than ever. Overseas radio collage by Big Al Bishop, which may sound like a familiar idea to you Sublime Frequencies freaks, but this a pre-SF track by Sun City Girls, with a more sustained and extended chant-driven psychedelic edge than usual (the track is over 9 minutes long)... It's on the Carnival Folklore Resurrection Radio album, a double CD presentation of a two-hour radio program that the band assembled at home and then broadcast live and one time only on WFMU, during a stop on their 2002 'comeback tour.'

2. Ah, Roxy Music, "Beauty Queen," from the For Your Pleasure album. I listened to this album a good 200 times when I really discovered it in the year 2002, but this is the first time in a few years and I'm telling you, tears of bittersweet joy are about to start streaming down my face right now. "What you and I share.... is an ideal of beauty...." Speaking of which, I never really knew if I liked Simon Reynolds as a music writer or not, but I've been enjoying this blog of his old magazine pieces, and his writeup on Roxy Music is great, including a cool Phil Manzanera interview. For Your Pleasure is Reynolds's favorite album too...

3, 4. Finally starting to listen to these excellent and massive synth-based coldwave/noise comps on Wierd Records. Makes me think of xex, from the early 1980s, and their great archival release on The Smack Shire label from a few years ago. Don't forget the Smack Shire! Great label... short-lived, but the six releases they managed to get out are all excellent.

5. Marcia Aitken & Trinity "I'm Still In Love/Three Piece Suit" is a beautiful tune, from the Trojan 12" Box Set.

6. Reparata & the Delrons - the band name sounds like science fiction, and this tune is my latest discovery on the Rhino/WEA Girl Group Sounds box set. Incredible post-Spector atmosphere.

7. I don't exactly consider Pitchforkmedia.com a go-to source for information on Black Metal, but I gotta admit that Brandon Stosuy does a pretty voluminous job with his Show No Mercy column. Maybe too voluminous - there's tons of stuff on there I have no interest in at all - but there are plenty of fine nuggets, like the Wolves in the Throne Room interview where the guy talked about how he was building his own barn and how of course he wasn't rejecting technology to do it, simply using technology on a sane and practical human scale. I also liked the interview with that Canadian weirdo band Wold. Also, remember when music journalism made you wanna check out new bands? Well, the Show No Mercy interview with Gates of Slumber got me to check them out, and their latest album Conqueror is some fine epic meat-and-potatoes metal. I was rooting for 'em right away because they were from Indianapolis, which seems like an underrated place for a good metal band to come from... also, they acknowledge the "soul and power" of Saint Vitus, dig "Tony Martin era" Black Sabbath, and, the clincher, are obsessed with Robert E. Howard, the creator of Conan. In the interview, the vocalist/guitarist waxes quite eloquently on the man and his philosophy, check it out.

8,9. The Gorgoroth tune is some decent galloping screamo black metal, but broadcast here mainly for the superb power-drone outro, it's over 3 minutes long. Nice lead-in to an excellent noise track by Rods of God, from their split tape on Bone Tooth Horn with Skeleton Warrior (more on them soon). If I have my facts right, Rods of God are 2/3rds of 'noise supergroup' and Landed wannabes Dynasty (more on them soon too).

10. Wow, in a career of various odd moves this recent self-released CDR by Richard Youngs has almost got to be the strangest. It's basically an accordion record - the whole thing is like a tipsy street corner busker jamming on a wheezy squeezebox. His rhythm is a little off and every now and then he sings inscrutably, but the music has it's own angelic pulse and when you start feeling it this album becomes pretty magical.

More on this Yahowa 13 offshoot later...

Grateful Dead Skull & Roses
Grateful Dead History of the Grateful Dead (Bear's Choice)
Grouper/Inca Ore split CS
Om Gebel Barkal 7"

For a while there Skullfuck (more tastefully known as Skull & Roses and, officially, The Grateful Dead) was basically my #2 favorite Dead LP (behind American Beauty, just edging out #3 Europe '72, #4 Workingman's Dead, #5 Live/Dead, #6 Anthem of the Sun, #7 Blues For Allah, #8 (In the land of the dark the ship of the sun is drawn by) The Grateful Dead, #9 Wake of the Flood, #10 Aoxomoxoa and #11 From The Mars Hotel after which the rest can get pretty wack unless it's live which is where all the picks, boots, tapes, burns, downloads and streams come in if they haven't already) but, to my surprise, today it just didn't take. I think it's because we started on Side 2 when the shuffle picked up "The Other One" and we decided to let the whole thing roll. The drum solo just didn't feel right as a starter and the album never really found its feet. "Me & Bobby McGee" and "Wharf Rat" did both sound as great as ever, though. Bear's Choice ended up coming on next, first time I've listened to it. Nice 1970 acoustic-set material on the first side (gotta love "Wake Up Little Susie"), and the second side is mostly a superb "Smokestack Lightning," 18 minutes long. Great gnawing guitars, sprawled-out swagger from the rhythm section, and Pigpen just might actually be the greatest American white blues singer. That may be a controversial opinion, now accepting challenges in the comments section. To supply some context for my claim, I should tell you that my criteria is simply that the singer must have recorded a fair amount of blues covers/standards. My other contenders would be Don Van Vliet and Al Wilson. I really can't think of anyone else right off the top of my head. I'm sure I'm forgetting someone huge/canonical/obvious here... right? Janis Joplin? Greg Allman? John Hammond, Jr.?? I guess Elvis Presley could be in there, although that opens the field to 1950s rock'n'roll and rhythm & blues at which point you might as well include Hank Williams, and so on. I'm a little confused now, but hey, Pigpen rules. This "Smokestack Lightning" is from 2/13/70 at the Fillmore East in NYC, and if that date sounds familiar to you it's because this show was heavily Picked by Dick for his acclaimed #4. No "Smokestack Lightning" on there, Bear got to it first, which makes his Choice an essential pre-Dick Pick. Next the iPod played the Grouper/Inca Ore split cassette. I think 40 or 50 copies were handmade for a tour or something, and if I'm not mistaken this is the same stuff that was just released by these two on a split LP. I just ordered a copy, I'll let you know. Either way, this is good stuff. The Grouper side has about four songs and they're right on a par with her last two full-lengths, Cover The Windows And The Walls and Dragging A Dead Deer Up The Hill. It also stands as a transitional work between the two, as you can hear her beginning to dial down the oceanic psychedelic wash-out of CWW and get into the lower-volume space and silence that works so well on DDD. The song "Poison Tree" is really standing out. As for the Inca Ore side, people seem a little more divided in opinion on her than on Grouper, and she can have a certain prankish cackle to her sound that I could see annoying people who are into the epic/somber Grouper tone, but I think her side here is pretty genuinely eerie and heavy, especially a long track consisting only of her double-tracked girl-ghost vocals and plenty of weird reverb. After that I put on mp3s of the new Om 7" for the Sub Pop Singles Club (already, within mere hours of its release, going for too much money on ebay). After it was over I played it again because even though I was listening, I felt like I didn't hear anything. I mean, sure, I did notice another ominous and quiet bass line that sounds similar to "Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun" by Floyd, much like a lot of their last full-length, but after that, I'm just not sure. The B side is a dub version with gratuitous melodica. The new drummer does seem like he'll work out fine, there's potential there, I just hope this continuing move from tranced-out power-riffage to low-key and increasingly affectless meandering isn't a permanent one.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

RIP Adam Nodelman. Tonight I'm playing the Seven Reasons For Tears album by Borbetomagus. His bass playing with that band was mind-blowing. I didn't even know he was playing with Sunburned Hand of the Man these days. Go to their myspace for more details.

Right now I'm listening to Shooting at the Moon by Kevin Ayers and the Whole World for the first time. I love the overall skiffly grey-sky beach-bum teacup prog sound, with awesome notey bass lines (by Ayers, I think) and guitar solos (by the teenage Mike Oldfield, I think) and sax playing (by the great Lol Coxhill), but the track that really makes it for me is the 8-minute scrape-improv "Pisser Dans Un Violon," right in the middle. I love it so much when a band that plays songs and stuff is willing to just bring things to a dead halt and scrape away obtusely in the rustling silence for much longer than they're supposed to. And then go right back into another lovely song, of course.

Warmer Milks do that too, and in fact earlier today I was listening to this over-the-top double-C90 they just released on the Portland label Every Label Ever. It's called Massive Dreadlock and it's like some sort of huge odds-and-sods career retrospective. There's boombox-quality live material from back on the Radish on Light tour, new wave instrumentals, loner guitar, more full band stuff, cracked country ballads (there's a great one on Side C called "Like A Bird" that sounds like Souled American!), and gluing it all together, much like the entire volumious WM discography, are tons of deep-in-the-zone outer-sound dream-experiments that seem to have no fixed instrumentation or physical location whatsoever. Overall Massive Dreadlock is like a long novel, you have to stop and put a bookmark in several times throughout... during Side A you're not sure if you're into it, during Side B it starts to pick up and make more sense, and with C and D you're hooked and every move the author(s) make(s) seems like the right one.

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